Aeropolitics have caused Cathay Pacific to postpone its much-awaited Manchester to Hong Kong route.
The three times weekly direct service had been scheduled to start on March 27 with flights making an en route stop at Moscow. Cathay Pacific had decided on this routing in order to spread its risks; the carrier maintains that a non-stop Manchester-Hong Kong would not have been profitable.
Business people in the Northwest of England had welcomed the new service, which would have been Manchester’s sole direct link with Moscow and Hong Kong.
Says a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific: “We’ve had to delay the route launch because we continue to await the completion of regulatory formalities regarding Manchester which are taking longer than originally anticipated. Cathay Pacific hopes to begin the service later in the year.”
Industry insiders believe that Cathay Pacific hasn’t been able to obtain traffic rights between Manchester and Moscow. Countries exchange traffic rights on the basis of equal opportunity and, as an airline of a third country, Cathay would have to persuade the aviation bodies in the UK and Russia for the right to fly customers between Manchester and Moscow.
Cathay Pacific says that passengers who have already made bookings for the new service will be accommodated on alternative flights via London. It says that passengers flying between Hong Kong and Moscow or vice versa can use existing code-shared flights. But bear in mind that these are operated by Aeroflot (using a B767) rather than Cathay Pacific.
Air routes between Moscow and Southeast Asia are currently under-served, with Thai Airways the only Southeast Asian carrier flying to Moscow. It operates a number of flights to Bangkok with onward regional connections. However, SIA will begin flying Moscow-Dubai-Singapore three times weekly from March 1 (see Online news, January 17).
For more information go to www.cathaypacific.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter